the artistry and psychology of gaming


Ing Hive (Metroid Prime 2: Echoes)

Ing Hive (Metroid Prime 2: Echoes)

Today, I’d like to tell you of a world split in two.  Every celestial object orbiting a sun has a physical light side and a dark side, but Aether also had those two sides on a more metaphysical level.  While a planet or moon has a dark half on the opposite side of its light half, Aether’s two halves were in the exact same location, but on a different plane of existence.  The dark side of Aether was almost a mirror image of the light, but years of corruption have allowed the dark side to give way to certain structural changes.  It was a horrific place; black and purple as far as the eye could see and an atmosphere that would gradually eat away at you until nothing was left.  All sorts of strange creatures lived there, but none were more ferocious than the Ing.  The Ing were beings so dark that light actually harmed them, and they were capable of corrupting other creatures, turning them into dark versions of their former selves.

The Ing Hive is another byproduct of the Ing’s parasitic nature.  It is the dark version of the Sanctuary Fortress, a high-tech fortress created by the Luminoth, Aether’s native sentient species.  It was one of the 3 locations on Aether that had an Energy Controller, a device capable of controlling the balance between light and dark energy.  It was a sturdy and nigh impregnable fortress to any invading army, but the Ing don’t exactly follow the laws of physics, so, in time, it was all for naught.  I’ve been through both sides, and while the Ing are largely considered a blight on the face of Aether, they made their nest in quite a beautiful place.

The true entrance to this world of darkness is in the Culling Chamber, a large hallway with many magnetic tracks with red lights facing diagonally toward each other and observation tanks containing Phazon, a bright blue material.  The normal grayish color of metal is darkened to a dark blue-gray, and even black in some cases, which looks even more beautiful with the multitude of red lights.  The black columns are well complimented by the strangely shaped red lights embedded within them.   Upon entry, one is presented with two paths.  The first leads to a small area called the Unseen Way, which has no floor, but rather drops into nothingness.  Looking out, one can see the bright purple atmosphere of the Dark World more clearly than most other places.  Those attuned to other planes of existence will be able to find a floating platform that can safely guide them across the abyss.  On the other side, you’ll encounter the Hive Reactor, a major source of power for this technological marvel.  The entire room is aglow with a rich red light coming from the power it generates.  From here, you can reach the entrance, which is a dead end here, but serves as the Light World entrance to the Sanctuary Fortress.

The other path from the Culling Chamber leads to an elevator known as the Central Hive East Transport.  At the top, the chamber is adorned with what appear to be long, dark red neon lights, much like you might notice at a diner in the wee hours of the morning.  Exit to reach the Hive Dynamo Works, another power generator.  Heading through the Hive Dynamo Access, it is possible to reach the Hive Gyro Chamber, a high-tech perpetual motion device.  Through the Hive Gyro Access is an area that, in the Light World, has an elevator that leads to the Aerie, the Sanctuary Fortress’s highest point.  At its apex, there is a portal that leads to its Dark World equivalent, the Hive Summit.  One can walk around the edge, in the open air, making it almost feel like you’re floating through the sky.  The Hive Summit is an incredible place, both in its breathtaking view of Dark Aether’s sky, but also in the curious fact that it cannot be accessed from the Dark World.  It simply floats out in the middle of nothingness, a self-contained chamber, but I’m showing my strange fondness of overhead hatches again.

Also connected to the Hive Gyro Chamber are Hive Save Station 2, a strange platform that has a revitalization device, and the Hive Temple Access, which leads to the Hive Temple, of course.  The Hive Temple is really more of a very large arena, though no one really knows what its true use was other than a front for the Hive Energy Controller, the aforementioned balancer of Light and Dark energy.  The Hive Energy Controller is in a building that looks quite majestic from the outside and has pillars with red lighted ridges on either side of its entrance.  At the controller itself, you can see out into the sky again, which will be a dark red and black if its energy has become unbalanced.  Through the Temple Security Access, an area that let guardians enter the temple to defend it, should it happen to be breached, one can reach the Aerial Training Site, a massive, open-air facility with a wide variety of training possibilities, as its name suggests.  The best way to describe it is a very intricately designed aerial jungle gym, complete with magnetic tracks, likely used for some foreign grappling technology.  One of the most interesting features of this area is a red translucent sky box that can only be accessed from inside.  Perhaps it was used for observation at one point.

I’ve always found it fascinating to explore ruins, because you never really know what each structure’s true function was.  The Luminoth were wiped out long before I’d reached Aether, and only a few prerecorded hologram messages remained of them, leaving much of their former civilization up to speculation.  Dark Aether itself was destroyed as well, due to the threat of the Ing being so high.  It is because of events like this that most adventurers don’t take the time to survey their surroundings and truly appreciate them, worrying that someday, they’ll miss that to which they cannot return.  I’d argue that every day holds a different set of events, and even a different light than any other, and they could be considered worlds of their own, to which our only return is immersion in our memories.  My advice to you is to never ignore the value of something out of fear of its annihilation.  That day comes for everyone and everything, eventually, so make sure you have as much as possible to bring with you when you return to the source.

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